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Developmental coordination disorder

Definition

Developmental coordination disorder is a childhood disorder marked by poor coordination and clumsiness.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Roughly 6% of school-age children have some degree of developmental coordination disorder. Children with this disorder may trip over their own feet, run into other children, have trouble holding objects, and have an unsteady gait.

Developmental coordination disorder may appear alone or in conjunction with other learning disorders, such as communication disorders or disorder of written expression.

Symptoms

Children with developmental coordination disorder have difficulties with motor coordination compared to other children the same age. Some common symptoms include:

  • Clumsiness
  • Delays in sitting up, crawling, and walking
  • Problems with sucking and swallowing during first year of life
  • Problems with gross motor coordination (for example, jumping, hopping, or standing on one foot)
  • Problems with fine motor coordination (for example, writing, using scissors, tying shoelaces, or tapping one finger to another)

Signs and tests

Physical causes and other types of learning disabilities must be ruled out before the diagnosis can be confirmed.

Treatment

Physical education and perceptual motor training are the best approaches for treating coordination disorder.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well a child does depends on the severity of the disorder. The disorder does not get worse over time. It usually continues into adulthood.

Complications

  • Learning problems
  • Low self-esteem resulting from poor ability at sports and teasing by other children
  • Repeated injuries
  • Weight gain as a result of not wanting to participate in physical activities (such as sports)

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with a health care provider if you are concerned about your child's development.

Prevention

Affected families should make every effort to recognize existing problems early and have them treated. Early treatment is beneficial to future success.


Review Date: 10/18/2008
Reviewed By: Jennifer K. Mannheim, CPNP, private practice, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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